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ANGOLA - Health & Education

Dylan Hughes

Director, Luanda International School

Bio

Dylan Hughes currently serves as Director of Luanda International School, with 2022/2023 marking his eighth year working with a vibrant community of national and expatriate students and staff from 40-plus nationalities. He has lived and worked internationally for almost 25 years in countries including Brunei, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, and Angola. He attended Auckland University in New Zealand, where he received a bachelor of education and completed post-graduate studies, including a diploma in teaching, a postgraduate certificate in education, a postgraduate diploma in education, and a master’s in educational leadership.

"Angola provides our students and staff with authentic opportunities to engage with a wide range of challenges and issues."

Dylan Hughes, Director of Luanda International School, talks to TBY about providing education in a child-centered and relationship-orientated environment while focusing on the emotional, social, and cognitive well-being and development of children.

Luanda International School is dedicated to learning in its broadest sense. What have been your major milestones?

We reopened the school’s physical campus in January 2021. Around 60% of our students came to classes on campus, while 40% remained online. The school campus was temporarily closed in March 2020 due to escalating concerns about COVID-19. Delivering online and face-to-face learning brought a whole new dimension of challenges to navigate. Demands on staff were significantly higher. However, we did it whilst making health and safety our number-one priority. Despite the continued escalation of COVID cases, the LIS team managed to operate successfully for 18 months. The good news is that enrollment has trended upward. In comparison to stories from other international schools, this is a remarkable achievement for LIS.

How important is the relationship between parents and teachers in Luanda International School?

Effective schools build strong partnerships with their school community. I believe the relationships we form at LIS with students and parents are a point of difference from many other schools— it is something one can feel the moment they enter the campus. As a diverse community of learners, we welcome families from 42 different nationalities. With over 30% of our study body comprising national Angolan families, we have a great foundation to welcome expatriate families into the rich tapestry of Luanda. This is where they come to form their first friendships and relationships and build a community away from their homes, and so the school serves as a vital hub for developing a sense of belonging. 

What is the vision of LIS when it comes to sustainability in Angola?

Angola provides our students and staff with authentic opportunities to engage with a wide range of challenges and issues. A great deal of our work is connected to the environment, children, and education. It is not only about going out in the community; it is also about bringing in the community. Students have reached out to other organizations, including NGOs and ministries, to form partnerships. This combination of external expertise and student passion has helped create the basis for sustainable project-based learning that aligns with our school mission and values. To date, we have initiated mangrove projects, worked with orphanages and schools, gone out into the provinces to support various local initiatives, raised funds, and directed collections for clothing and medicine. Thanks to the environmental passion and commitment of a year 13 student, LIS operates one of the biggest solar-powered schools in Angola.

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